- Authorities react to Human Rights Watch on disappearances
- Independent body could carry out investigation, spokesman says
Kenya’s police denied any involvement in the disappearances of at least 34 people that Human Rights Watch said were abducted in counter-terrorism operations over the past two years.
The multi-agency raids arrested people allegedly suspected of links to Somali militant organization al-Shabaab, the New York-based group said Wednesday in a report. Months later, those seized haven’t been charged with any crimes, nor located, while the bodies of at least 11 other people arrested by state agents were later found, it said.
“From where we are sitting, no police is involved,” police spokesman Charles Owino said late Wednesday by phone. “There is no government policy to kill extra-judicially. We live in a country where there are laws. Let an independent body carry out an investigation.”
Anti-militant operations began in northeastern counties such as Mandera shortly after al-Shabaab’s September 2013 attack on Westgate mall in the capital, Nairobi, in which at least 67 people died. The moves intensified after the al-Qaeda-linked group raided a college in Garissa county last year, killing at least 147 people, Human Rights Watch said.
Owino said that if it was proven any police officer was involved, that person would “take responsibility for their actions as an individual.”
“If there is any tangible evidence, we will prosecute,” he said. “We will not protect anyone who breaks the law.”